After walking in on their bandmates making out, Riley and Reid are a little freaked out. Everyone knows that relationships between band members are a bad idea. This also points out that they are both lacking in relationship experience. They make a pact and start a journey to help each other find someone to make out with and win over their crushes. Since this is an experiment, it’s best to record it all, right? So they keep a journal of romantic events, as well as tips for each other. While Reid struggles to catch the attention of a girl he likes, Riley is suddenly surrounded by cute guys. Ted Callahan is really the one she wants, but there is no harm in playing the field while your young and that is what she does. But both Riley and Reid may get more than they bargained for with this pact. Can they make it all work out or are their love lives (and the band) doomed to failure?
This novel is pitched as Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist
meets Easy A
Naturally, I wanted to read it immediately. Those are easily two of my favorite movies. You know those movies that you want so many times that you have memorized all of the dialogue and can speak along with the film? Yeah, that’s me with these films. I’d devour anything even remotely similar to them. Conversely, that is also part of why this gets 4 stars instead of 5. I has super high expectations. You can’t compare something to those films and expect me to go in with low expectations. This was one of those books that I was overjoyed to be approved for. I couldn’t wait to dive into the beautiful pages and dig into the the story. Once I started it, I enjoyed it, but I didn’t love it like I expected to.
I was initially on the fence about Riley. On one hand, she is totally dedicated to her band and music in general. On the other, she seemed a bit shallow. Maybe that’s just my take, but I found her to be a bit annoying. The fact that she was freezing out her best friend infuriated me. Yes, she fucked up, but you aren’t perfect either and things are never going to be fixed if you don’t speak. If you just ignore her every she shows up or refuse to tell her anything about what’s going on with you even when that is your first instinct, things will never improve. Her obsession with music was also a bit….unbelievable? Or maybe it was the fact that there seemed to be a gig for a band that she loved every single night. Maybe things are different in Los Angeles, but how is it possible for there to be so many gigs? Some of them are local bands, but seriously, every single night? That seems a bit farfetched. Either you are exaggerating your love for these acts or you love everything. This is probably just a personal issues since I’m particular about my music, but still. Every time a new show was mentioned, it drew me out of the book and back into real world thinking land and that isn’t where I wanted to be.
I think Ted Callahan was actually my favorite character of the novel. It might just have achieved 5 stars if it has been told from his perspective. He’s smart and cute and honest. He has an almost sweet quality to him that I loved immediately. I wanted him to be with Riley because she wanted it so badly, but I almost felt like he deserved a little better. Riley wasn’t necessarily cheating on him, but she was definitely lying to him. He’s so honest and I hated the idea of someone he obviously liked lying to him.
The rest of the cast were all interesting. Riley has a fully functional, normal family. Parents, sibling, all present and accounted for. The parents even pop in here and there to lay down the law and we see Riley actively checking in with them when she is out or won’t be home. I really liked that small detail. The parental units seemed like a nice bunch and they are pretty easy on Riley, letting her go out and be a teen more often than not.
This story was pretty good. It has a good plot, good writing, and it’s populated with a group of entertaining characters. I feel like that is the best word to describe the novel, good. It wasn’t spectacular and I wasn’t blown away by it or grabbed by it in that must keep reading sort of way. It was just good. There is one more thing that influence me, whether I intended to allow it to or not. It’s something I’m hesitant to speak about because it’s a generally agreed about rule that author behavior should never influence your opinion of the book itself. Or rather, you can allow it to influence you, but it’s frowned upon to speak about it. I think that is unfair because no one berates you if your sole reason for reading a book is because you meet the author and they were awesome. No one turns up there nose at anyone who picks up a John Green novel simply because his youtube channel is amazingly entertaining. Either way, I was affected by a certain minor scandal and I’m compelled to mention that here for the sake of honesty. A little while back, the author of this novel posted a self-made bingo card online, poking fun at the reviewers of her work. I won’t go into the whole thing, but you can read more about it here. I tried to not be offended by that. I get that authors need a way to let off steam because people are ripping their work to shreds. Even though they must be aware that negative reviews come with the territory, I’m sure it’s a hard thing to take. However, I still found myself turning that over in my mind. I think my big issue was that she made it a public thing. That was something you should have shared via email with other author friends. That is not something that should have been published on any form of social media. It made me feel she would rather I didn’t read her book at all as opposed to reading it and not loving it. That whole controversy stayed in the back of my head the entire time I was reading this. I felt like she was mocking me and everyone like me. I can’t speak for all reviewers, but for me, this is a hobby. This is not my job. This is something I squeeze into whatever spare time I can find. I don’t have the time or the patience to read over my reviews endless times looking for errors in syntax or grammar. I try to stay grammatical, but I also try to write as I speak and we all know that is never as grammatical as we’d like it to be. I also don’t have a league of copy-editors proofing my work for these and other types of errors. I tried to ignore it. I tried to not think about it and concentrate on the novel and it’s qualities. But every time the story hit a lull, I was brought back to that.
Regardless of all else, this novel was pretty entertaining. It was funny and emotional. It will never be my favorite thing and it doesn’t quite live up to the standard it’s tag line created, but it was still an enjoyable read. I think anyone who enjoys contemporary YA will like it. Just try not to get bogged down in the drama and you’ll be fine!
****Thank you to Poppy for providing me with an eARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review****